The Woodstock senior started her day by accepting a scholarship offer from Troy University to compete in both cross country and track at the Alabama college. Later that night, Woodstock had a basketball game against Lassiter, and Block suited up just like always, but what happened on the court may have changed her life.
On a play for a loose ball, a Lassiter player ran by Block and inadvertently took out her right knee. As pain shot through Block’s leg, she fell to the ground and left the game and was later diagnosed with a grade-2 tear of her medial collateral ligament.
Forced to watch from the sidelines for the next four weeks, Block realized just how much she loved the game of basketball, and how desperately she wanted to get back on the court.
And she also thought of that cross country and track scholarship waiting for her at Troy.
“Sitting on the bench, at practice and in games, was just horrible,” Block said. “It was an eye-opener for me because I didn’t realize how much I loved the game until I wasn’t able to play.”
Unable to gain her release from the Troy scholarship, she was prevented from playing for any other NCAA Division I school, but that didn’t matter to Block. She knew of a university close to home that would be a perfect fit.
Close to home, but not too close, Reinhardt seemed to suit Block’s game. Not only that, but because the Eagles play out of the NAIA, she would be eligible to play immediately.
Less than a month after her knee injury, Block as back on the court for the Woodstock’s senior night game against archrival Etowah. She finished the season with 12.4 points per game, 2.2 steals per game and made 68 percent of her free throws.
Block’s cross country season was, by all accounts, successful, too, although track season was not as solid as in years past as she continued to rebuild the strength in her right leg. Nonetheless, for her contributions to Woodstock’s success in her three sports, Block is the 2012-13 Cherokee Tribune Female Athlete of the Year.
Block said the honor was unexpected — even though she first considered the possibility four years ago.
“When I was a freshman, I remember seeing the girl who was athlete of the year,” referring to former Etowah standout Leah Hixon. “She did cross country, basketball and track, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m going to work so hard in high school. That is my goal.’ So it’s really exciting.”
While basketball could hardly be more different that cross country and track and field, Block found a way to excel throughout. Using the mental toughness she learned in basketball to persevere in cross country, and the endurance she developed running in basketball, Block said it was hard to choose a favorite — until she finally did.
“It was hard telling the coach (at Troy) that I had a change of heart,” Block said, “but he understood because he played basketball, too.”
Block has now turned her attention to basketball full-time. She has already started attending open gyms with some of her future Reinhardt teammates — many of whom she knows from playing against them. Block said it will be a new experience playing with some of her county rivals, but she is excited about it.
“The girls on the team from other county schools are really nice and I get along with them now, even though they were rivals in years past,” Block said. “There are girls that I have wanted to play with, and I’m so glad I get to play with them instead of against them now.”
Block also said she’s excited about joining a smaller program where basketball won’t be a full-time job, and will remain fun.
Basketball has always been Block’s first sport. She took it up before she was even in elementary school and began playing competitively in fifth grade. Soon, Block was a member of a travel team, spending her summers and winters in a gym. Often, she was out of town for weeks at a time.
“Last July, I think I was only in town for a total of five days because I was playing so many tournaments,” she said.
When Block was in middle school, Woodstock cross country coach Kirk Scharich came calling. Block had run a low time in the mile, and Scharich suggested she take up running.
Block joined the high school cross country team during the fall of her freshman year, and when the spring rolled around, she was on the track team, running the mile for the Lady Wolverines.
She continued competing in the three sports in each of her four years at Woodstock. In her senior year, she consistently finished in the top four on the cross country team and was a staple in the 800- and 1,600-meter relays for the track team.
Block recognizes that not many athletes stick with multiple sports through high school. Even fewer receive scholarship offers in all of them.
“It can be a challenge,” she said. “Just like anything, though, if you want it, you have to work for it.”